News bites, November 2017

This article was originally published in November 2017

Love is not an ingredient?

The co-owner of a Massachusetts bakery says he’ll comply with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) order to remove “love” from the list of ingredients in its granola but disagrees and doesn’t really understand why he has to. Stuart Witt says he feels strongly that “love is a big part of what we do” and that his bakery’s Nashoba Granola has listed love on the label from its beginning 20 years ago. The FDA says simply that love is not a real ingredient. (Washington Post)

Cost of delayed nutrition facts

An independent economic analysis has found FDA’s delay of a menu labeling law — from May 2017 to May 2018 — could cost consumers $15 for every $1 saved by industry. In other words, higher health care costs and loss of productivity cost consumers 15 times more than what industry gains. The study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Consumer Federation of America shows a heavier public cost than FDA’s own benefit-cost analysis, which conceded a $2 cost to consumers for every $1 saved by food purveryors that haven’t added nutrition data to menus. (Consumer Federation of America/Center for Science in the Public Interest)

Organic onions superior

Research in Ireland has found onions grown organically contain higher antioxidant levels than onions grown with conventional methods. The organic onions also had up to 20 percent higher flavonol content than conventional onions. Researchers believe that how we treat the soil affects the soil biome and, in turn, the food from it. (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry)

Organic reduces poverty?

An unprecedented study has found that organic agriculture is linked to the economic health of a region. Research by a Penn State agricultural economist shows organic “hotspots” — counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity — boost household incomes and reduce poverty levels at greater rates than general agriculture activity and even more than major anti-poverty programs. Edward Jaenicke’s team found counties with a high level of organic farming activity boost median household incomes by an average of $2,000 and reduce poverty by an average 1.3 percentage points. (Organic Trade Association)

Organic brands sold

Three popular organic food companies are being sold. Campbell Soup acquired Pacific Foods for $700 million. Stonyfield Yogurt was sold to France-based Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy company, for $875 million. Dean Foods, the largest U.S. milk processor and distributor, acquired Uncle Matt’s Organic, a producer of organic juices. (The Organic & Non-GMO Report)

Dicamba crop damage

Hundreds of soy and cotton farmers are reporting widespread crop losses caused by the herbicide dicamba drifting from neighboring farms growing GE soy and cotton. One dispute between two Arkansas farmers led to a shooting death. Arkansas’ plant board voted to ban any spraying of dicamba for 120 days and Missouri briefly barred its sale in July. One member of a dicamba advisory panel set up by the manufacturer, Monsanto, says he had urged the company for years to change course because “even the best, most conscientious farmers cannot control where this weed killer will end up.” (The Salt/The New York Times)

Dicamba impacts bees

Honey production is down about a third in parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri where dicamba is sprayed. One farmer says dicamba drift is the most likely explanation for the lack of blossoms and why his honey production is off by 40 to 50 percent. (The Salt/NPR)

GE apples

Golden Delicious “Arctic” apples, genetically engineered to resist browning when cut, hit the market in October in 10-ounce grab-and-go bags. Major apple-growing trade groups, including the U.S. Apple Association and the Northwest Horticultural Council, opposed the Arctic apple because of concerns that cross-pollination to other orchards will cause importers, such as China and Europe, to reject U.S. apples or require costly testing. The grower intends to introduce GE “Arctic” Granny Smith, Fuji and Gala apples next. Traditional, organic Opal and Cameo apples (sold at PCC) and the classic Cortland also resist browning when cut — without genetic engineering. (Biotech-now.org)

Regenerative Organic certification?

The Rodale Institute unveiled draft standards for a new Regenerative Organic certification, developed by a coalition of farmers, ranchers, nonprofits, scientists and food brands. When finalized, the Regenerative Organic certification will exceed organic standards to be even more climate friendly, humane, just and environmentally sound. The Organic Consumers Association says that as we veer toward climate catastrophe, sustainable claims “don’t cut it” and regenerative organic farming that returns atmospheric carbon to the soil is the next stage of organic farming — and civilization. (Organic Consumers Association)

Smoke taint in wine?

Enologists at Washington State University are researching what happens to wine grapes when exposed to smoke for extended periods of time, a real concern since heavy smoke from wildfires covered much of the state last summer. Just 30 minutes of heavy smoke exposure can impart a certain taste or smell called “smoke taint,” described as similar to a campfire or ashtray. So far, there is no fix for smoke taint and it is unpredictable because it evolves during aging of the wine. (The Salt/NPR)

Also in this issue

Using your brain to eat better

Why do we feel full at the end of a meal and lose interest in eating more food? Most of us assume we experience fullness when there's no more room left in the stomach for food. Researchers beg to differ.

Nutritionists' picks

Winter Squash: This seasonal produce comes in a variety of colors and shapes and all offer fiber and beta-carotene. They are delicious as a component of roasted root vegetables.